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We've had the Canadian Grocer's 2023 blog post "Food Fraud on the rise in Canada" by Dalhousie food distribution policy professor Sylvain Charlebois in mind for some time.  And more recently, we saw yet another headline about the seizure of adulterated olive oil in Italy and Spain.

So here's our take on food fraud and why we should care about it.

Food fraud - what is it?

Food fraud is when food is misrepresented. There are a few different types that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) identifies:

  1. Substitution: where a product is swapped with something of a different character or quality, such as horse meat for beef, or Pollock (type of fish) for Cod.
  2. Adulterating or diluting: A product gets mixed with other ingredients or elements that are not identified on the label. For example, adding sugar syrup to honey, or adding sunflower oil to olive oil, or adding fillers to spice.
  3. Mislabelling: Calling a product something that it's not. An example is labelling farmed salmon as wild salmon, or labelling apples as organic when they aren't certified organic.
  4. False Claims or Misleading Statements: Products that reflect false claims or misleading statements so it appears they are what they aren't. For example, claiming a product is "preservative-free" when it actually contains preservatives, or that it is "sodium-free" when it doesn't meet the thresholds for making that claim.

The most common food fraud that happens across the globe is in:

  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • dry spices (saffron, smoked paprika, chilli powder, black pepper)
  • fish
  • fruit juices
  • organic food products

Why should we care?

People need to be able to trust that the ingredients and products they are purchasing are what they say they are, and that they have accurate information to make decisions on. This is something that we care about as a food producer.

The stakes are particularly high for people with allergies or food intolerances. We don't want people getting ill because there are allergens in products that are not on the label.

Similarly, we don't want people getting ill from hazardous materials that are sometimes added to dilute or adulterate food products. This was the issue identified with the adulterated olive oil from Spain and Italy: it contained lampante oil - a very low quality olive oil that is not suitable to eat.

And beyond that, we also don't want people to be paying top dollar for products that contain low quality ingredients or components, when they say they are the opposite. That's just not right.

What can you do?

If you think you've come across food fraud, make a report to the CFIA. By answering a few questions, you can make your report. In addition to incorrect labelling, food fraud or misrepresentation, you can report concerns related to:

  • food poisoning
  • allergic reactions or injury due to a food product
  • food for babies or infants
  • quality issues or finding foreign or natural objects in food
  • restaurant or retail stores
  • caffeinated energy drinks, and,
  • other food related concerns.

If you have any questions or concerns about our products, you can also contact us directly.

Join us for Part 2 where we talk about what Kaslo Sourdough does to prevent food fraud.

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